The Maromizaha forest is home to no less than 12 species of lemurs, three of which are classified as Critically Endangered: Indri (Indri indri), Diademed Sifaka (Propithecus diadema) and the Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur (Varecia variegata).
These species are currently faced with different anthropogenic pressures that intensify each year and directly or indirectly threaten the viability of their population. These include burning, coals, harvesting of wood or non-timber forest species, poaching or mining.
The ecological integrity of the wet Maromizaha forest will be lost without these lemurs leading to tragic environmental and social situations. Their health as a species and population in this area contributes to core ecosystem services essential to the survival of the most vulnerable local communities. This includes permanent water availability, soil fertilization, mitigation of impacts caused by cyclones.
To achieve conservation targets, the project will build on the opportunities offered by the forest’s Protected Area status.
Several development activities will be implemented to support local communities towards sustainable use of natural resources. This will involve alternative methods for making charcoal from bamboo, micro-development projects adapted to local skills, rabbit farming, training of local guides, agricultural development and environmental education and the construction of a library.
Development activities will compensate for the establishment of new rules for the use of natural resources, the application of which will be controlled by the communities themselves through permanent forest monitoring. Restoration operations will also compensate for loss of forest habitats during the transition period.
In order to optimize conservation outcomes, local communities will be integrated effectively into the governance of the Protected Area by participating in meetings of the Protected Area Policy and Monitoring Committee.
The implementation of the various activities will be supervised and re-oriented at three meetings of the Steering and Follow-up Committees and coordination with the National Office for the Environment to ensure compliance with current legislation, usages and customs.
The objective of the project team is to increase the incomes of more than 500 people out of the 2,200 registered as living around this Protected Area, while ensuring that the benefits are shared equally between the genera. It also hopes to make more than 300 students aware of the importance of protecting lemurs through the organization of five days of classes and the opening of an environmental library.
At the same time, the salaries of nine gatekeepers and the training of 16 local environmental policemen will be ensured to help improve environmental monitoring. Forest restoration is expected to result in the planting of 20,000 trees of indigenous species. Further 10,000 other plants will constitute a green network in agricultural zones.